Green groups gear up to save Lalbagh from BDA

Agency plans to acquire a part of the park for signal free-corridor project

Green groups are preparing for a fight against the government’s plans to acquire a portion of Lalbagh to pave the way for a signal-free corridor from Sirsi Circle to Agara Junction.

In the wake of a report in these columns on June 18, Environment Support Group (ESG), a City-based non-governmental organisation, has filed a Right to Information (RTI) query seeking details of the Bangalore Development Authority’s ambitious project.

While earlier, it was a fight to save Lalbagh from the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, which managed to acquire 1,135 square metres for a metro station on RV Road, this time, it is a question of 13,800 square metres — more than two-and-a-half acres of the historic garden.

Vinay Srinivasan of Hasiru Usiru (ESG) termed the government’s move ‘urban terrorism’.  “We are yet to procure information about the project; we have sent an RTI query. Once all the documents are available, environmentalists will take necessary action as per law,” he said.

Members of Koramangala First Block Residents’ Welfare Association have challenged the 8.5-km corridor project in the High Court. One of the petitioners said they were against the project, which had already claimed many trees near the St John’s Hospital- Sarjapura Road. They now plan to rope in environmentalists across the City and broaden their agitation.

The petitioner said it was not just Lalbagh, but some areas of historical importance in Chamarajpet too would be affected if the corridor work was taken up. He said the BDA had claimed to be planning a radial corridor connecting the City’s central areas, but the proposed project does not include these areas. It will connect only the South-East and the South-West parts of the City.

The petitioner said signal-free corridors would not help reduce traffic congestion but increase the volume of vehicles on such stretches.

A BDA officer told this newspaper that he was not aware of the government sending any intimation regarding acquisition of Lalbagh land for the road project. He said it was only a proposal and the land acquisition process would begin in earnest after the engineering section sends intimations to the authorities concerned.

Another BDA official said Lalbagh was a “reserved area” and the BDA cannot acquire it for development work. As per the final detailed project report, the area opposite Lalbagh, housing private properties, will be acquired for the project, he said.

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